I've seen several videos and images of artists having their canvas stuck on the walls - paintings that they are currently working on.

I was wondering how they stick/place it on there?

These canvases are still unstretched and aren't framed, like those in the background of this picture:

I've tried using sticky putty but it isn't so effective when stuck on canvas. Also duck tape isn't so effective.

Would appreciate any help, thanks!

4 Answers 4


Staple gun or hammering finishing nails to the wall. How will it be presented after completion?

  • It will be stretched by a framer - I'm hoping to give an allowance of an inch or two on all sides for proper stretching. Apr 18, 2020 at 6:51
  • 1
    per @joachim you’ll want to be sure that you take into consideration the change that will occur to the paint if you stretch the canvas after painting. This is why we stretch and prime before painting. Apr 18, 2020 at 16:09
  • 2
    In that order, yes. That is why pre-stretching is so important: if you paint on an unstretched piece of canvas, the paint will contract the fabric, and, whenever you want to present it properly, it needs to be stretched, which in that case will very likely damage the integrity of the paint, causing it to crack (or stretch initially, in the case of oil, but then even more sensitive to changes in pressure and the like).
    – Joachim
    Apr 19, 2020 at 19:00
  • A small staple gun is my tool of choice when I work on the walls (actually a sheet of finish plywood leaning against the wall), whether paper or canvas. But if you are going to mount it on a stretcher to frame it, @NotTheFace is right... stretch it first.
    – rebusB
    May 12, 2020 at 20:08

Because the canvas will have to endure a lot of tension and movement, especially when you work with large and rough gestures, and because canvas consists of fibres and has a lot of texture, using tape or putty won't work. You need hardware.

In addition to Not The Face's answer, I suggest using thumbtacks.
Make sure to stretch the canvas as much as you can while attaching it to the wall, so it is as flat as possible, and you can work on it cleanly.

Also consider grounding the canvas after pinning it to the wall, so it will become even tighter.
In case you take this approach, staples or nails are more appropriate, as they have a stronger grip (depending, of course, on the length of the nails, staples, and thumb tacks, the method used to put them in the wall, and the material of the wall itself).

  • The wall I'm planning to attach the canvas too is concrete, so would thumbtacks still be a good option? I'm hoping to use this wall multiple times for the same size of canvas, so I was wondering how the process would look like for setting it up and taking it down. Thanks for the help! Apr 18, 2020 at 6:53
  • If you can drill holes, you might want to neatly drill a few along the borders of the average size of canvas you use, and use nails or even screws to attach the canvas there. This will allow you to easily stretch and remove your canvases. In case you can't damage the concrete wall, you can put a big piece of hardboard or multiplex against the wall and stretch your canvas on there.
    – Joachim
    Apr 19, 2020 at 18:58
  • If the wall is cement or plaster or other hard material then you would be better off attaching a plywood or fiber wood board and tacking the canvas to that. Very hard to get anything to penetrate cement, and if you do the wall maytake damage that would be harder to repair. Heavy tape might work but only temporarily
    – rebusB
    May 12, 2020 at 20:12

If you're working with a concrete wall, the best bet with minimal damage all around would be RebusB's suggestion on attaching it to a wood board. Stretch it prior to attaching so it's taught and staple down onto plywood - this will give you the flexibility of moving it from one place to another as you need and minimal damage to the concrete wall.


I use thumbtacks too, sometimes even just tape for small canvases. It is easiest to use prestreched, factory gessoed canvas, but you can also stretch the canvas on a temporary frame, gesso it and then unmount it and, relatively, paint on it loose, the gesso drying pretty much stiffens it and once you are done painting, you can stretch it very tight (though it is much harder to stretch a finished painting) as the paint is still flexible (I do it with oil paintings, it maybe different for other mediums or very thick paint) it will "adapt" and it won't crack on you or something. Do not apply varnishes before stretching.

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